How to save money in your first year at University

How to save money in your first year at University

University can be a very expensive time, particularly in your first year, but it doesn’t have to be! The fantasic Codie from http://www.codiekinz.co.uk/ has written us a guest post that shows us there are a few tips you can follow to make the most of your money and still have a great time!

1.Don’t spend all your loan in Freshers’ Week! Although it’s going to be a crazy week, trust me when I say it is not to be all and end all of Uni nights out. In fact, you will definitely have better nights out later in the year when you have established a good group of friends and know where are the best places to go. That’s not to say you shouldn’t drink or have a good time! Pre-drinking is a great way to save money – in some cases you can buy a whole bottle of something for the price of one drink in a club!

2.Get an NUS card as soon as you can! Whether it’s a free cheeseburger in McDonald’s or 10% off in New Look, there are so many discounts that it really will pay for itself in a matter of weeks. In fact, keep your eyes peeled for anywhere that has student deals – cinemas, software, even a Spotify Premium account. Make the most of it!

3.Share with your housemates. Take advantage of 2 for 1 deals together, paying half the price and there will be some things that you could all just split the cost of. For example, toilet paper. If you all pay a few quid towards a big pack, it tends to work out cheaper than everyone buying their own. Just don’t use more than your share – nobody likes that guy.

4.Get a job. It might not seem like a lot of fun, but it will be worth it when you can afford trips and  treats. It doesn’t have to be anything too labour-intense, in fact, most Universities hire students, pay well and are pretty flexible when it comes to you needing time off to work on assignments. Obviously it’s important to remember that your priority is your degree, so don’t take on too much, but many local places will have been hiring students for years, so they tend to know how much commitment you can reasonably give. If you don’t want something fixed, why not look for agency work, or even the odd one-off thing, like paid psychology experiments. These are often done on campus, can be quite interesting a pay a little for your time.

5.In the summer before you start, save, save, save! Work all the hours you can, and instead of your usual Top Shop binge, put it away for Uni – you’ll be so glad you did!

6.Although it may seem like a long way off, looking for accommodation for your second year tends to happen around Christmas. This may mean paying an obscene amount for a deposit, so it’s a good idea to put some money aside ready for this to save being stung.

7.If you have a birthday or other event before you leave, consider asking for Uni necessities such as books and kitchen wear. It might not be the most exciting present you’ve ever received, but it will save you money in the long run, and your family will (hopefully) buy you some good quality products.

8.Consider buying your text books second hand. As long as they’re the right edition, there’s nothing wrong with used books (especially if the previous owner has written notes in the margins!) and they can be so much cheaper than brand new. Shop around, check online, charity shops, even Facebook. Failing that, there is always the library!

9.Go to the Supermarket about an hour before it closes. This is when the bread and pre-cooked chicken tends to be marked down. £5 whole chickens can be reduced to half the price, and baked goods can be as low as 5p! Remember that bread can be frozen, as can some meals – but always check first. Food poisoning isn’t ideal.

10.Get a H1 form, which allows you to get free prescriptions, opticians etc. It’s pretty simple to fill in and over the course of your three years, it will be well worth it! With prescriptions costing just under a tenner, and Freshers’ flu being almost guaranteed every single year, you’ll be so glad you’ve got it!

Budgeting certainly isn’t sexy, but it is necessary. Whether you want to write everything out on a spreadsheet, sit down with your parents and come up with a plan, or scribble a general budget on the back of an old receipt, just don’t bury your head in the sand. After making sure you can afford bills, food etc, don’t forget to put money aside for entertainment, night outs and treats. Just because you have to be responsible, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun too!

Note: If you do end up getting yourself into money trouble, don’t worry. Head over to your Students’ Union and ask them for advice. Every University has systems in place for this, and they won’t judge or lecture you – it’s more common than you can imagine! Getting help and advice as soon as possible will be much more beneficial than trying to ignore it and getting in more of a mess – these things don’t tend to just go away over night!